I LIKE TO think that this column occasionally has an impact on public policy but I know that it is a mouse scratch compared with the punch delivered by radio talk-show host Albert Cheng King-hon in his Teacup in a Storm programme on Commercial Radio. When Mr Cheng says he wants a senior government official to respond to comments made by callers to his programme, he gets that response and quickly too. The summons cuts right through schedules and meetings with the juniors scrambling to alert the boss and get him on air. Albert has crooked his finger. Rush for the phone. So it does not entirely surprise me to hear legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing talk of rumours that some Executive Council members are unwilling to renew Commercial Radio's licence. They have been usurped by a talk-show host. They no longer lead. They react. But what surprises me is that an attempt to take the initiative back from Mr Cheng has come through the Broadcasting Authority in the form of a warning that in two interviews with senior officials he had not taken care when using words 'capable of adversely affecting the reputation of individuals'. Now I know the broadcasting code of practice says broadcasters should not do this sort of thing, but if we are to take it at face value, then talk-show hosts really cannot do much more than recite pages of old cook books. If government officials have been incompetent or said something silly, then public embarrassment is their due lot. If it affects their reputation, then so be it. If they then claim that their reputations were unfairly damaged, we have laws against libel and they can resort to the courts. What needs to be changed is the code of practice. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. You cannot have worthwhile public discussion of public policy without the occasional policymaker getting egg on his face. Give me the broken eggs any day. Eggs have no use in this kitchen if they are never broken. It is a particularly apropos consideration at the moment as veteran broadcaster Robert Chua (he of the 30-minute television advertisements masquerading as documentaries) has proposed setting up a round-the-clock government TV channel with live broadcasts of official press conferences, important functions and legislative council sessions. I can well imagine that this proposal would have a great appeal in some circles of government. At last, a direct channel to the public to get the government message across as that message was intended by government, without changes by editors, without different choices of emphasis. I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it would provide 24 hours a day of opportunity for government officials to say silly things. Government may think that the embarrassments it suffers are the result only of misrepresentation by others, and if it wishes to indulge this delusion, it can pay the price. I need live targets for this column as much as Mr Cheng needs them for his radio show. But if Mr Chua's proposal is encouraged by government, it would certainly confirm that the delusion exists and this would in one way also be regrettable. It would say that government truly considers the media to be an enemy which it must push out of the way to get to the people to whom it is responsible. It would also indicate the existence of a delusion that government speaks with one voice. Leave alone that there are plenty of civil servants who have grave doubts about their masters' bidding but will never say so, will Ms Lau get as much air time as political appointees who have their own corporate agendas but have never subjected them to a ballot box as Ms Lau has her views? In the end, it probably would not matter much. Few people would care to watch Legco sessions from beginning to end or bore themselves with on-air recitations of press releases. They turn to the evening news broadcasts to get the essentials and then back to the variety shows and situation comedies. I still find it a little disturbing, however, that the Broadcast Authority should have targeted Mr Cheng just when a proposal has been made for a government television channel. Let us have Albert on air again soon. He can be offensive and he may be unfair on occasion but this is the kind of government coverage we need, not 24 hour-a-day recitation of public policy documents and official fluff that is not made subject to critical examination.